Underwater metal detecting is pursued by many as a recreational activity. However, if you desire to achieve some degree of success, it is important that you have the proper knowhow and this includes a good knowledge of underwater metal detecting techniques and of the right detecting equipment to use under different conditions.
Underwater metal detecting can be carried out at lakes, large ponds and, of course, at ocean beaches. Commonly, the detectorists or the treasure hunters prefer hunting in the shallow water although there are some who do like to go for detection in deep waters where you may need to deep dive or scuba dive to scoop out your treasures.
Apart from the excitement involved, metal detection can be profitable too, given you employ the right techniques. Depending on where you are hunting, you can find many different types of precious metal objects through underwater hunting. Some of the most commonly found objects include gold and diamond rings; silver and gold bracelets, watches, necklaces; and so on. If you are hunting on East Coast beaches, your exploits may often include Civil War and Pre-Civil War coins and relics such as uniform buttons, trade tokens (Pre-Civil War) and such like. On the other hand, underwater metal detection on southern coastlines may yield Spanish gold and silver coins, religious medallions and so on. Similarly, people primarily interested in gold are well advised to hunt the west coast as well as the streams and rivers of Colorado since many an underwater treasure hunter has reportedly found gold nuggets in these areas.
Next to acquiring the right equipment, the most important thing is to plan your trip right. We have already mentioned that different places may yield differing varieties of underwater treasures. So, if you are looking for any special sort of objects, you need to do some research to know what places are most likely to yield those treasures.
However, if you have no special objects in mind, you still need to mind the season. All seasons are not equally good for treasure hunting expeditions. By far, summer is the best season although winter should be alright too, as long as it is not too cold. You should also take into account the amount of traffic at a specific place. Places which receive more footfalls will naturally be more likely to store a greater number of underwater lost treasures than places which are not visited by too many people.
It is also a good idea to go hunting right after a storm. Your chances of finding valuables go up when you go detecting after a storm. Since the storm will cause the sand and the surf to steer, this may easily bring to view otherwise buried objects. Lastly, it is a common misconception that you can go underwater metal hunting at night without too much difficulty. This is not true, though. It becomes difficult to mark your spot and scoop during night and you will also have a hard time distinguishing junk from precious objects during nighttime.
Now, as to the underwater metal detecting techniques.
Techniques differ depending on whether you are hunting in the shallow water, wading for treasures or opting for deep water diving. In the first case, it is very important to understand the water current of the place. The current will guide you toward the direction the sand is moving which, in turn, will give you a fair idea as to the area where the metals are most likely to get stuck. This will narrow down the area of your search. It is also important to check for low spots and cuts in the sand since this again will take you nearer to buried valuables.
When we talk of shallow water hunting, it usually means detecting from knee deep to the high water mark which is the level the sea water reaches during high tide. The most basic thing to know about shallow water hunting is that you should start detecting a few hours before low tide. This will give you enough time to search when the tide is receding and until it starts to rise again. The deeper water areas (6-10 ft) during high tide are considered to be the most productive areas for finding lost treasures. These are the areas where people normally swim during high tide and the lost objects are most likely to get deposited around these areas.
It is also common to find items or objects of similar weight along the same tide line or around a small area. This is since wind and storms tend to deposit items of equivalent weight in a cluster. Now, once your metal detector signals a target, you must absolutely make sure to mark the spot since otherwise it can very easily get lost in the rolling surf. However, before you dump your scoop to dig out any item, make sure to double-check the target via your detector. This will help you make sure that you don’t lose track of the target. Now, once you have dug your scoop, if you find no target, make a move of 90 degrees after each of your scoop. The signal will stop automatically when the scoop is in your target. And yes, don’t forget to bring along a waist mounted bag to store your found treasures.
In case of wading, you need some extra equipment. For a starter, you need a longer scoop and you will also need wet suits as well as wet suit boots. It is also a good idea to use a weight belt to keep your wet suit from floating and fluffing up too much in the water. Plus you will need a floating screen to sift out the items from your scoop. The procedure is pretty much the same as with shallow water hunting. When the detector signals a target, scoop a chunk of sand from the area. If the signal doesn’t stop, take another chunk. Once the target becomes visible and the signal stops, sift the scooped sand with the help of the floating screen to separate the metals. It is a good idea to tie the screen to your waist belt since this will keep both your hands free for scooping, churning and sifting.